A New Fight Against Neighborhood Blight

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City Councilman Jim Strickland wants to use a pilot program for blighted neighborhoods.

It's based on the same payment in lieu of taxes incentive businesses get

"If we can afford to give tax incentives to businesses, maybe we can do that with residential  property owners to save some of these streets to save some of these neighborhoods," Strickland said. "We've got to fight street by street to try to save these places."

"The problem is that the property taxes owed to the city and this county exceed the value of the property," he added.

It would involve neighborhood community development corporations around the city.

They would buy blighted houses for the taxes owed.

The city and county would return that money to the CDC.

The group would renovate the house and then put it up for sale.

Steve Lockwood, executive director of the Frayser CDC, says a house on University would be the first test house to see if the program would work.

"What you do is invest in one house in order to remove the blight and to remove that drag on the rest of the neighborhood," he said.

Mayor A C Wharton says government wouldn't be losing any money since the overdue property taxes will likely never be paid.

"We also get rid of all the expenses of having to cut the weeds, board it up and of course all the crime that goes on in these," Wharton said.

"We're going to get the property back on the tax rolls, people are going to start paying taxes, the houses are going to be renovated and these streets and these neighborhoods are going to get some improvement," Strickland said.